In 2009, one of New York’s finest spas came to a sad end. Like much else in the aftermath of the ‘credit crunch’, the oversized, overstaffed excess of Cornelia Day Resort was easy to spot in hindsight. But when times were good, the 22,000-square foot venue, with its 150 staff, offered just about the most indulgent urban spa escape in the world.
For those ruing the loss of the Cornelia, they didn’t have to wait all that long for the second coming of the New York spa. All the better for the chastening experience of 2009, a pared-down, more elegant Cornelia opened up in The Surrey in 2012. And a better fit for the new spa would have been hard to find.
Opened in 1926, this quirky boutique hotel has been host to all manner of famous names over the years. John F Kennedy was known to be a fan of The Surrey, while Bette Davis and Cobette Colbert made the hotel one of their favourite haunts over the years.
Situated as it is on 76th Street, nestled in Manhattan’s luxurious Upper East Side, the hotel’s location is definitely one of its biggest pulls. Yet it’s about so much more than that. The glamour stretches from the rooftop garden, on the 17th floor – affording quite remarkable views, right the way down to the delightful paisley carpets that set the note of opulence.
Cornelia Spa fits seamlessly into the aura of The Surrey. Five elegant treatment suites each come with their own private boudoir. Meanwhile, treatments pay an attention to detail you can’t help but feel might not have featured at the original location on Fifth Avenue.
The salts used are finely ground French sea salt, while the artisanal honey comes from various beekeepers so no hives are overworked. As well as the private boudoir, you can enjoy a personal rainforest shower. And, rather than ending your session with a stock green tea, here guests retire to the library for an amuse-bouche and sparkling wine.
Treatments here are innovative and nourishing. Try the oxygen and caviar facial – where the two combine to encourage maximum skin hydration and produce a natural lifting effect. The reason for this combination of ingredients? Oxygen is a vital component in creating firm, beautiful skin, while the nutrients in caviar repair and provide antioxidant protection. Oh, and that amuse-bouche we talked about? Caviar, naturally.
Their ‘Elixirs of Life’ treatment combines a revitalising soak in a citrus and petal bath – the perfect de-stressing medley of moisturising marine milk, infused with ginger and rosemary, and blended with a bouquet of healing herbal tea. While in the bath, indulge in a flute of Prosecco l’Orange, mixed with Grand Marnier.
If you’d rather go the whole nine yards, the full sensory relaxation package might prove tempting. This one spans all the Cornelia classics, from signature massage through manicure and pedicure, via botanical facial, candle-lit lavender oil nap, and even servings of Cornelia’s pick-me-up honey coffee and, of course, fine champagne accompanied by a fine sorbet amuse bouche.